Scientist: Douglas O. Revelle
Meteorite Mysteries(In Memory of Meteorologist Douglas Revelle)Here’s a program from our archives.ambience: timelapse recordings of meteorites explodingWe’re listening to a time lapse recording of the sounds generated by a meteor as it entered the earth’s atmosphere. Meteors usually burn up or explode as they near our planet, but what happens when one of them crash lands on Earth? I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Douglas Revelle is a scientist with Los Alamos National Laboratory who’s been studying meteorite impacts.Revelle: If they impact the Earth, they can create a tremendous crater, like in the case of Meteor Crater in Arizona. And if they hit the ocean where the ocean is reasonably shallow, they can create tidal waves or tsunamis. So there’s a tremendous range of possibilities for extraterrestrial materials, that can produce a tremendous amount of effects that we can observe on the ground.Dr. Revelle tells us that meteorite impacts don’t always produce disastrous effects. Sometimes, they don’t even leave a crater.Revelle: There seem to be another phenomena besides craters. For example the June 30, 1908 fall over Siberia. The real puzzle with that event is there is no crater on the ground. We know there was an object. It was well observed. And some 5-10 kilometers above the surface of the earth, the meteorite apparently broke into billions of pieces, because nothing was ever found on the ground. Back in the 1930s there appears to have been a similar event over Brazil, where a large forest was knocked down, and a tremendous amount of lights and sounds were seen and observed by people on the ground. There’s an interesting one called the West Hova meteorite. All the indications are that it was tremendously slowed down by the atmosphere. And when it hit the ground, it didn’t produce a crater. It bounced, and then it rolled about a quarter of a mile, and stopped.In future programs, we’ll hear about the odds of a more cataclysmic meteorite impact. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.